Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weeping grass, Turkeys and orchards

The best layed plans have morphed over the last couple of months. We did have a long term plan of having Chickens in our orchard but somehow we have ended up with Turkeys. They got put in the orchard because Turkeys are very susceptile to coccidiosis, so you need to keep young ones in areas that have never had chickens or other poultry (apart from Ducks which do not get Coccidiosis i am told). So if i want to continue to have Turkeys then i may need to keep the orchard or other similar area free from chcikens. However there are some good points to having Turkeys (and ducks for that matter) in the orchard instead of Chickens. The Turkeys do not scratch the mulch away from all your young trees. They are also very keen on grass and lots of it - much more than Chickens and by keeping them on green grass you are getting amazing omega 3 packed meat at harvest time.

In the orchard i am managing some areas for short green grass which can be cropped by the birds as well as maturing grasses with seeds which are providing another source of protein. Weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides) is common in the orchard and is found over much of south eastern and east coast Australia. It is a perennial grass with creeping Stolons.

Weeping grass - Microlaena stipoides
 Aparrently research has shown that  although it os not a large bulky grass, the leaves are high (10 - 27%)  in highly digestible protein relative to other grasses and the seeds are full of high quality protein (up to twice that of wheat *)  It is being investigated as a dual purpose crop that is both pasture and grain production - but it is early days yet *.

Weeping grass in the lawn

The Turkeys definately eat the green grass as well as the seeds.

However the chickens are not without green grass as they get some free ranging time each day. I also have purchased some electric netting which will allow them to spend much more time on pasture - once it is all set up.


  1. Wow! Can't believe how much you have managed to do in such a short time! Go family Brock!

  2. Yes Kris - having so much time to devote to the garden is a wonderful thing. Getting the domestic vegie garden up and runing was a major priority for us especially as the growing season here is much shorter than i have been accustomed to. I'm not sure that i have put some things in early enough but i'll know if that is the case come Autumn. Next spring i'll be abe to hit the ground running with lots of wormy, fertile soil.

  3. Chris,
    How many turkeys per acre for mowing. I have about and acre and a half micro orchard that I may concider turkeys for mowing.


  4. Carl - in my case not many. I had 3 Turkeys on an 8th of an acre but the soil in there in not as productive as it could be - in a state of recovery. I noticed the pasture was getting a bit tired so i have moved them in with the chooks where the free range in an unfenced area.
    They do peck at some things just for the hell of it - like a blueberry bush which happened to be in an area they liked to rest in.